October 24, 2021

Movie Review – Official Secrets (2019)


Official Secrets poster

Here we have yet another fact-based movie about an intelligence officer who betrays her country and her oath. Here again, we have yet another whitewash by the entertainment industry who appear to hold these traitors in high esteem.

This is the story of a linguist – Katharine Gun – employed by the highly secretive Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the signals intelligence organization of the United Kingdom, the counterpart of the American National Security Agency (NSA).

Note how the movie is described by Netflix, Rotten Tomatoes, and IMDB.

You see the same mantra repeated over and over to the point that people start believing it. Terms like “whistleblower,” “illegal,” “spy,” and “unlawful” are just incorrect when applied to Katherine Gun and her betrayal. The movie also repeats these falsehoods ad nauseam, also adding the ludicrous charge that the United States was seeking information to blackmail fellow members of the United Nations Security Council.

Katharine Gun is not a whistleblower, which is a specific legal term here in the United States – I am not sure about British law. Here there are specific requirements for someone to qualify for “whistleblower” protection, including how and to whom to report illegal activities. None of those involve leaking highly classified defense or intelligence information to the media – which is exactly what she did.

Nothing that NSA did violates U.S. law – in fact, there are statutory legal protocols that allow for just this activity. Collecting intelligence from foreign communications is what NSA does. If the communications occur in the United States, it requires a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. None of the countries mentioned in the Koza email enjoy any immunity from surveillance by American intelligence services.


Read the email for yourself. I see no indication of blackmail or anything that would violate U.S. law.


Text of a Top Secret/Comint email claimed to have been sent by Frank Koza of the NSA Regional Threats (RT) office on January 31, 2003. The recipients were officials of NSA’s British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ): 


As you've likely heard by now, the Agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR of course) for insights as to how to membership is reacting to the on-going debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/ negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/ dependencies, etc - the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises. In RT, that means a QRC surge effort to revive/ create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters.

We've also asked ALL RT topi's to emphasize and make sure they pay attention to existing non-UNSC member UN-related and domestic comms for anything useful related to the UNSC deliberations/ debates/ votes. We have a lot of special UN-related diplomatic coverage (various UN delegations) from countries not sitting on the UNSC right now that could contribute related perspectives/ insights/ whatever. We recognize that we can't afford to ignore this possible source.

We'd appreciate your support in getting the word to your analysts who might have similar, more in-direct access to valuable information from accesses in your product lines. I suspect that you'll be hearing more along these lines in formal channels - especially as this effort will probably peak (at least for this specific focus) in the middle of next week, following the SecState's presentation to the UNSC.

Thanks for your help.

No one should be surprised that the U.S. and UK intelligence communities collect foreign communications – that is the core mission of both NSA and GCHQ. To imply that this email indicates illegal, illicit, or immoral activity is ludicrous.

As for the movie production itself – it has well-known British actors who are skilled at their craft. That said, I am disappointed that they chose to appear in this anti-American whitewash of treasonous activity. Are they condoning such behavior? It would appear so.

Pass on this one.